By the time we arrived at Brett Jensen’s farm near Idaho Falls, all of the bloggers and dietitians were beginning to get acquainted. We all knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime tour, and we were eager to spend as much time as we could with each other. One thing about bloggers that you have probably noticed by now: we love to tell stories! Each bus ride and meal shared together included fascinating tales of growing up, education, early careers, and family life. A microcosm of humanity journeying through Idaho in a small bus.
We turned off the main road and drove along a dirt lane, through acres of potato fields. The bus turned in at a potato storage where a group of men were working some large equipment. The wind was blowing hard, and it was a bit chilly, but most of us didn’t mind. Here was our opportunity to dig in the dirt..and find potatoes!
We had a chance to see the Spudnik potato storage equipment that Brett Jensen and his workers use up close. On the ground you can see potato vines and a few potatoes that were culled out of the last load that went into storage. Want to see how it works?
Isn’t that something?! I wanted to know how the potatoes get taken out of the storage in the spring…I’ll be you do too! They use a machine called a scooper. Here it is:
We were invited to walk into the storage, never tired of seeing all those potatoes piled up! Everyone wanted to have their picture taken with the potatoes!
Brett explained about how important it is to keep the potatoes at a consistent temperature and humidity, using the metal pipes to distribute mist and air underneath the potatoes in the storage. We have all experienced what happens when a potato goes bad in the bottom of a bag. It would be terrible if that happened to a whole building full of beautiful potatoes. All the care, the work, and the cost of growing and harvesting those potatoes would be wasted. And I certainly would not want to be the one to clean up!
We all buttoned up our jackets and headed out to the field. Who wants a shovel? Who wants to dig potatoes? I do!!
The potatoes aren’t that deep in the ground. As you can see, the earth is shaped into mounds where the potato seed is planted. The vines have already been removed from the field.
Brett Jensen showed us where to start digging….first find the vestiges of the plant, and then dig into the side of the mound. He showed us how easy it is to find potatoes with his hands!
We were all tired and some of us felt really cold by the time we boarded the bus. The ride back to our hotel was pretty quiet. We had seen and learned a lot about potatoes in one day! The Idaho Potato Commission folks had scheduled some free time for us to rest or take a walk once we arrived at the hotel.
During the evening we were treated to dinner at a restaurant within walking distance of the hotel, Sandpiper Restaurant. If you’re ever in Idaho Falls, stop by for a meal…I had Idaho rainbow trout… with mashed potatoes, of course! (Insider tip: try their Guinness Chocolate Cheese Cake)
This was the view from my hotel room…the Snake River and the historic Mormon temple built in the early 1940’s, the very first one in Idaho and the first to be built with the modern single-spire design. Canada geese flew past as I sat out on the balcony, enjoying the crisp autumn air. Beautiful cloud formations, plenty of water in the river, no traffic noise. Peace. And when I arrived home after our dinner at The Sand Piper, this was my view:
We needed to pack our bags and set our alarms for an early wake-up, because the next morning our group of bloggers would be leaving without our dietician friends. We were about to have another amazing adventure in Idaho, heading up into higher country! Our next destination was Teton Springs Lodge in Victor, Idaho, but first we would tour a potato dehydration plant where potato flakes are made. So much to see and learn about Idaho potatoes!
To be continued…..
Disclosure: I was invited on the Idaho Potato Harvest Tour by the Idaho Potato Commission. I was under no obligation to write this post, was not paid to write this post, and all opinions and experiences are mine.